On Thursday, an Indian-born mastermind of a counterfeit designer clothing scam was convicted of trying to help a criminal gang to steal around £97million through VAT refund claims on counterfeit exports of textiles and mobile phones to the UK, and faces a prison sentence of 20 years.
Sock maker Arif Patel, 55, was found guilty last month of one of the country’s biggest “carousel” tax frauds.
Mr Patel was found guilty of false accounting, conspiracy to embezzle government revenue, resale of counterfeit clothing and money laundering after a 14-week trial at Chester Crown Court.
“Arif Patel led a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the law-abiding majority. Tax crime does not come without victims and fraudsters like this couple are stealing the money that funds the National Health Service and other vital public services we all depend on,” said Richard Las, director of the Fraud Investigation Service at His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC ). was part of a joint investigation with local Lancashire Police.
Mr Patel and his gang imported and sold counterfeit clothes that would have been worth at least £50million if they were genuine and the proceeds were then used to buy property in Preston in the north of England and in London via offshore bank accounts.
Another defendant, 58-year-old Mohamed Jaffar Ali from Dubai, who was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud HMRC and money laundering, was also sentenced to 11 years in prison on Friday.
“Arif Patel and Mohamed Jaffar Ali were at the center of one of the largest carousel tax fraud cases this country has ever seen and the seriousness of their crimes was recognized by today’s sentencing,” said Eamonn O’Neill, deputy director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service.
The UK Internal Revenue Service said a total of 26 members of the criminal empire were convicted after six trials between 2011 and 2023 and received prison sentences totaling 147 years and seven months. More than £78million of the gang’s assets have been seized and the process to recover these crime proceeds is ongoing.
“Patel was sentenced in his absence as he remained in Dubai throughout the trial,” said Andrew Fox, chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
“The CPS will now initiate confiscation proceedings against the defendants to prevent them from reaping the benefits of their criminal enterprise,” he said.
HMRC said Mr Patel’s criminal enterprise relied on “dozens of lieutenants” across the UK, including professional trailblazers. It involved two accountants from a Preston-based law firm: Anil Hindocha, 69, of Preston and Yogesh Patel, 66, of Aylesbury.
Earlier in 2014, Mr Hindocha was sentenced to 12 years and 10 months in prison after being found guilty of false accounting, conspiracy to deceive the tax authorities and money laundering. Yogesh Patel was sentenced to five years and seven months in prison for the same offences.
(Except for the headline, this article was not edited by NDTV staff and is published via a syndicated feed.)
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